A Strong Introduction
We don’t meet Han Solo until we’re a third of the way in to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. The characters of Princess Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2 and Obi-Wan Kenobi have already been established – as has the central plot of conflict between the Empire and the Rebellion. With his home and family destroyed, Luke travels to Mos Eisley with Obi-Wan Kenobi, in search of a pilot willing to help them get to Alderaan while avoiding “Imperial entanglements.”
Luke and Obi-Wan get into a fight almost immediately upon entering the Mos Eisley Cantina, and are soon face-to-face with Captain Han Solo of the Millennium Falcon. They find him lounging in a booth, with his co-pilot – a Wookie – nearby and, when they explain the requirements of the task at hand, he quotes a fee of 10,000 credits, while rattling off his curriculum vitae in arrogant fashion. After haggling, Luke, Obi-Wan and Han Solo reach an agreement, and Solo is left in the Cantina to settle the bar tab. It’s at this point that we really learn about Han Solo’s character.
He’s approached by a bounty hunter named Greedo, who’s in the employ of the crime lord Jabba the Hutt. Through their conversation, we discover that Solo has been working as a smuggler for Jabba, and is in debt to him due to an incident in which he dumped a cargo after being boarded by the Imperial Forces. When Han Solo tells Greedo that he has Jabba’s money, Greedo suggests that Han Solo might like to pay him off, instead of giving it to Jabba. As the situation escalates, and Greedo makes veiled threats against Solo’s life, a blaster shot rings out, and Greedo is dead. Solo pays the tab and leaves.
Thus, in what amounts to just a few minutes of screen time, a legend is born. Here’s a man who believes he answers only to himself, but discovers that by associating with criminal enterprise, he’s often weighed down by the consequences of his actions.
He sells his services to the highest bidder, and chooses to avoid politics and ethics wherever possible. He’s had many fascinating adventures, but we hear only snippets about them – and the overall effect of that’s to leave us wanting to know more about this person. Where does he come from? Who else does he know? And, most importantly, can he be redeemed?